Review by Linnea ‘LiteralGrill’ Capps
Claw Volume 1 is an anthology focusing on F/F action published edited by KC Alpinus. I was excited to see something with a focus on the ladies to read for once with just how many anthologies are out there for guys. No offense guys, there’s some great stuff out there, but my more sapphic side needs reading material too! The forward states, “I truly hope these ladies within these stories take you for a ride and leave you wanting more.” Does the anthology succeed in this goal? Time to check out the stories and find out! “Contextual Intercourse” - Erin Quinn Ever gone with a friend to a dance party? How about one that is a little more queer leaning? A trans woman and their non-binary friend are off to do just that in this story. I have to say this story shows the kinds of struggles that gender non-conforming people can face in a realistic manner. How trying to react to an erotically charged environment can be with bottom dysphoria and a lack of confidence riding on your back. The cruel realities of how difficult a spontaneous sexual experience can be for a pre-op trans woman. Having experienced similar moments myself, I can say the anxiety and confusion is described to utter perfection. Yet even with this moment of sadness presented it also offers some hope, shows how the experience can go, how it should go. Those that enjoy reading erotica certainly want to feel excited, get their rocks off if you will. However the story presented is what separates erotica from simple smut. A story like this that validates the experiences of trans women existing in a space where so few like it exist? We need more just like it. I couldn’t think of a better way to start off this anthology.
“The Beating Of Wild Hooves” - Dwale
The Beating Of Wild Hooves focuses more on the story elements than on the erotic ones, but the story it tells is quite interesting. It focuses on Babs, a sheep living in a not quite dystopian but certainly not healthy society in the future. One might expect a sheep to be docile, a woman potentially more so. This is not how Babs is at all. The story shows off how family and life dynamics would work for a sheep in an anthropomorphic society in a cool way. It also shows a sport unique to this world, an MMA style fighting sport called Hoofbeats. Babs, unsurprisingly, is a Hoofbeats competitor. This story does contain discussions of sexual assault which aren’t given content warnings for before the story begins. This is nothing against the story itself, which I thought was well written and entertaining, I just find it needs to be mentioned. I would love to see content warnings become an anthropomorphic fiction standard for anthologies like this one.
“The Church Mouse” - Madison Keller
At first I thought this story might be an older widow finding love, then I thought it would be a murder mystery. Finally, it turned out to be a curious case of time travel with more twists and turns than I had ever expected. It did allow for a scene where Anise, who had lost her life partner a year prior, was able to have a lewd experience with said partner which was a fun and curious time. Overall I’m not sure this had as strong an erotic punch as I was hoping for. However, the story itself was absolutely incredible, something I wish I could see expanded into something larger. There were so many threads of a time travel story I wish I could have followed further. “Tempered” - Crimson Ruari
This story is a playful romp where recently divorced hyena Kahina finds herself with the opportunity to explore and try not just something new, but someone new. That someone is a painted dog named Retha. The two meet by random chance at a chocolate making class and when Retha invites Kahina over to her house to make some more together, the hyena realizes it might be for something more than just making chocolate.
This story was cute, potentially adorable even. Retha being so encouraging and making sure that Kahina was comfortable while having her first time with another woman was such a nice touch. If anything, this story shows just how exciting trying something new can be.
“A Simple Wager” - Holly A. Morrison
This story gets to the heart of the action quickly, two adventurers in some sort of fantasy setting playing a game of chess after a successful quest. The loser must buy drinks for the winner. As you might expect, the winner may not have played all too fairly and the drink they desire? Would an eyebrow wiggle make it clear for you? A fun read!
“Support” - Kristina “Orrery” Tracer
I cannot stress enough how fantastic the world building is in this story. "Support" allows readers to look into the experience of someone uncomfortable with their body in a whole new lens. For trans readers or even those that are Otherkin, this story is going to hit hard. For those that aren’t, it might inspire serious empathy for those that are.
This isn’t to say that the story doesn’t have a spicy climax either as it certainly does! It’s just that this climax is both sexually and emotionally satisfying. I was not expecting to read a story like "Support" when I opened this book up, but I’m so happy to see it here.
“She Who Wears The Mask” - Tenza
We all wear masks sometimes, hide our true selves from the world, live in a way that doesn’t truly make us happy. Annette is living a life just like that until she meets a lively raccoon named Madi who has a serious interest in cosplay. This story shows how through cosplay, Madi was able to break free from the life expected of her and find her true calling. She uses that experience to try and help Annette open up and find what makes her happy too.
One of the things I found fantastic in the story were the seamless consent check ins and Madi making sure that Annette is comfortable with what looks to be her first lesbian relationship. This one left me not only excited, but smiling.
“Trophy Hunting” - BlueSeiryuu
Predator and prey, a dynamic that is most uniquely explored through the furry lens. It gets even more fascinating when the animal who is most usually the submissive prey decides to take control. The deer plays video games while the tiger pleasures her, the tiger trying her best to draw her mistress’s attentions away to the game to rest fully on herself. This story is a constant flow of the erotic from start to finish with small stops to revel in the dynamic along the way. “The True Villain” - Dark End
This story took a fun twist right from the start that I absolutely adored. This world has real super villains and heroes, and one of the most famous villains of all seems to have the hots for a hero. Thankfully with the help of a psychic barkeep, she might be able to get some of the action she so deeply desires. I don’t want to spoil how the story goes as the twist and how the sex scene plays out is wonderfully creative. I just have to say make sure you read this one if you like your sex a little less ordinary.
“Smokey And The Jaybird” - Slip Wolf
A lesbian bear trucking across the Appalachian mountains? Sign me right up! The story isn’t all perfume and roses, facing realities of not only being a lady trucker but a lesbian to boot. Unfortunately not everyone is quite so understanding. Still our trucker finds a bit of happiness in her travels at a waffle slinging joint thanks to the singing of a blue jay named April. Though it turns out her songbird has just as many problems as the bear herself. The story comes not only with some spice but also a heartwarming ending. I absolutely loved this one!
“Frontier Living” - Jeeves Bunny
Once again I have to mention my displeasure at this story essentially starting with a scene that really should have had a content warning for assault. Again, this isn’t the author’s fault by any means and doesn’t make the story bad, it just made for a rough start. The concept of the story, two girls living on the frontier and panning for gold is a good one I might not have considered. The isolation from crowds during these times would have likely been so welcome to a lesbian couple. After Tabitha is saved by Maria, she does all she can to give her the reward she deserves. You know the kind! “Roses” - Searska GreyRaven Immediately this story invokes visions of Beauty and the Beast from its title to the magic castle with what seems to be a monster within. Rose, upon being forced to live the rest of her life in an enchanted castle after a deal from her father, finds herself incredibly happy to be free. She even convinces the beast to teach her how to fight with a sword. I’ll be real, sword lesbians may be a trope but it is for a reason: it’s absolutely fantastic. This story is also not just a retelling of the story as you would expect either. It was fantastic, marvelous, and emotionally gripping. Not to mention some human on beast action was certainly thrilling.
“The Tutor Learns” - Skunkbomb A devout Christian finally admitted that she might not be straight “as the lord intended”. It’s a style of story I’ve certainly seen before and can understand reading. It’s an experience plenty in the GSM community have lived through. What sets this story apart is how honest it is in the sex scene. Ramona, the more experienced lesbian in the room, is the one doing the teaching instead of her usual squirrel math tutor. First times are clumsy and without knowledge things need to be explained and kept simple. Having read so many stories where first time lovers magically knew what to do, it was incredibly refreshing to see things done right. --- My biggest complaint about this anthology is a lack of content warnings. Consent is by far one of the sexiest things in the world to me. It’s hard to get into the headspace to really enjoy a story when in the back of my mind I feel tension from not knowing if I’m going to be suddenly thrust into a moment I’d object to. That sense of unease haunted me during this anthology after certain stories which was a real shame.
The forward is true, these stories do leave you wanting more. There’s so many excellent and thought provoking, not to mention sexy stories in this anthology. I didn’t want anything getting in my way of enjoying them! I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for some excellent lesbian furry fiction with just a little concern for the more difficult content. Overall this was a wonderful anthology and I look forward to seeing what CLAW Volume 2 may have to offer!